I know this sounds insane because it is.

I mentioned I was interested in taking a couple of project/engineering management courses with my then-manager. She insisted I take a certain class, which I did, and then went around telling everyone that "we" were taking the class together. She never enrolled and despite her promising to get authorization to reimburse me for the course. She never did, which was fine by me because in the past she has also gone around telling people that SHE got employees she dislikes their degree. Doesn't matter if they were simply interning while finishing up school. It was all her.

Long story short, the experience soured me and I decided not to tell her about the next class. Or the next. As is my right. Especially considering she was taken off as my manager for creating a toxic work environment (not pertaining to this).

Well, she found out about me taking courses and is once again going around trying to claim credit for me taking classes. Once more she is bragging about how "we" are taking classes.

Here is the thing, she didn't even graduate high school. It is impressive she got this far in a field she has absolutely no background in, and I am not knocking her, but she is using me to give the appearance of her getting her Master's degree in Engineering Management.

How do I politely tell her off? So far I think I need to do it in an email for a paper trail.

  • 5
    Why do you feel it is necessary to "tell her off"? If she is claiming to be taking the same class as yourself, why does that matter to you?
    – sf02
    Apr 29, 2021 at 14:34
  • She is using my taking the class as proof she is taking the class. It is highly unethical to lie and I don't want to be lumped in with her on this.
    – Things
    Apr 29, 2021 at 14:36
  • 6
    How could she possibly use you taking the class as proof of anything for herself?
    – sf02
    Apr 29, 2021 at 14:40
  • 3
    I assume this is the same lady as your previous question? Seems strange that you let her know again after the previous issues? Cool company that lets you take all these classes though. workplace.stackexchange.com/q/168997/40669
    – Kilisi
    Apr 29, 2021 at 15:16
  • 3
    "Polite" and "tell off" are oxymoronic. The whole point of "telling someone off" is to be impolite. Apr 29, 2021 at 22:09

3 Answers 3


This is what you say to this person:

"You've never taken this class with me. Please don't say that you have."

To which the person will respond by saying: "You've heard wrong. I've never said that. Who said that? Blah blah..." Because that's what pathological liars do when confronted with their lies, they double down with more lies.

But don't let that phase you. "I don't care if you didn't say that. Don't say it again. I will contradict you publicly if I have to. Do you understand?"

Now, this could be me projecting, because I've also had a former boss who was a pathological liar. In my case, my former boss was telling everyone that I was still working for him even though I wasn't.

And in my case, he also denied that he said any of those things, but I didn't need any confirmation. This guy couldn't say a single thing without bragging about himself and he couldn't have a simple conversation without lying about something mundane.

And do not worry about being firm with this person. Even if you anger them by enforcing your boundaries, after their show of anger, they'll just move on to someone else. Their strategy just wouldn't work if they had to become a lifetime enemy of every person that calls them on their bullshit.


So... this bugs you. Okay. It's bizarre behavior where someone you don't like much is trying to gain benefit by association with you. I can see how that would bug you. So... what is the result you wish to achieve, and why?

  • Perhaps you just want her to stop doing that thing, without having to get into some sort of really ugly fight. I'm sorry. It's not going to happen The kind of person who acts like that (and has shown a pattern of same) is not going to stop acting like that just because you ask them nicely.

  • Perhaps you find that you really just kind of hate this woman, that the idea of being associated with her sickens you, and that you want to punish her for the way that she mistreated you in the past. This is reasonable. She has generated a toxic workplace environment, she's forced you to hide part of your life for fear of interacting with her, and now she's trying to make gains off of you. It's reasonable that you would feel this way. It's also highly likely to end badly if you actively pursue it. It's like the next option, but you have less moral high ground to work with, and people will be able to tell, to a degree.

  • Perhaps you believe that she is bad at her job, and you want to protect your workplace from this. In that case, there are other things that you can do. It is reasonable to believe this thing. Apparently, as a manager, she generated a sufficiently toxic workplace for you that you had to leave. "Not generating toxic workplace effects" is part of a manager's job. Understand, though, that this is going to be a matter of you trying to undermine the career of someone who is presumably higher-ranking, who you've been known to have trouble with in the past, and who is apparently reasonably good at playing political games. For a variety of reasons, this is not trivial.

So if you want to act, in a way that protects the company, the objective is to ensure that the people who matter know that she's slinging BS. First, don't make a big deal about it. This lady sounds like she thrives on drama. If the topic comes up in your presence, at a time when you might be reasonably expected to respond, then you can offer calm and quiet correction. Simply state that you have been attending, but that you do not believe that she is in your class. Keep it to simple facts that you know with absolute certainty to be true about your own experience, rather than speaking directly to her honesty or lack thereof. The calmer and less emotionally invested you can be about this, the better. Beyond that, you have a new manager. Speak to your new manager. Express concern. Your old manager is lying about this, and has shown what appears to be a pattern of lying about such things. This suggests that she may be misrepresenting both her own level of ability and the contributions she is providing to the company. That's a potential issue, especially if she gets herself into a position to make meaningful decisions for the company that she's not qualified to make. Acknowledge your own prior history with her, and the fact that it leaves you with some bias on the matter, and that as a result you're not necessarily the best person to push this up the chain further. Then leave it in their hands, and be prepared to back their play if they decide they're going to do something about it.

Possibly also throw in something about how you find it somewhat personally offensive, and it bothers you, but you don't know what to do about it. Then follow their advice.

That's how you handle issues with other managers who are not themselves reasonable people. You go to your manager first, you lay out the situation as best you can, and then you get ready to back their play, whatever it is.


A pretty simple answer:

  • It's really common that in the workplace, someone (whether boss, colleague, or report) behaves in a bizarre way

  • Very unfortunately sometimes the bizarre way is just whacky, but sometimes it is annoying

  • Very unfortunately, the solution is: there's just nothing you can do about it.

It has to be like "water off a duck's back". I couldn't even tell you the name of such and such person on our current contract. My actual life outside of work is so complicated and full ... I "work to live, not live to work".

If someone at work was as amazingly annoying/bizarre as you describe - I wouldn't even remember at the end of the day!

It's tough to adopt this atttude, especially if you're just starting your career, but it is really the only and ultimate solution. Hope this generality helps!

  • 2
    To be honest, this particular answer is not that bad or wrong, and it may have a point in some way. But, I don't know why this answer got downvoted ? Apr 29, 2021 at 18:25
  • 1
    Enablers downvoted it! ;-) More seriously on this site, short or simple answers are often downvoted. (The other answer is also downvoted - perhaps for being too long!)
    – Fattie
    Apr 29, 2021 at 18:30

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